According to a newly revised bill on smoking in Macau casinos, there will be bans applied to tableside tobacco use in VIP rooms. This Friday saw the approval of the new bill which will allegedly eliminate “noise”, as the casino gross gaming revenue is classified and reported.
Analysts Carlos Santarelli and Danny Valoy from the brokerage Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. stated that even though the measure might seem like a stick in the wheel of progress of the gross gaming revenue, this will eventually prove to provide a new perspective on the gaming trends in the segment, as well as level the playing field across the various casino operators.
The new rules are supposed to become obligatory from the 1st of January, 2018, however, the casino venues have been granted an additional year to prepare their VIP smoking lounges. This means that smoking in VIP rooms will continue well into the year, until the 1st of January 2019.
There has been an interesting occurrence in the casino industry in Macau. The unique “table reclassification” has been going on for some time now and it manifests itself as having designated premium mass areas turned into VIP ones so that smoking in them could legally continue. Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, also known by its acronym in Portuguese DICJ has a clear definition for a VIP room.
One is not defined by the presence of a rolling chip program, but instead by the number of tables available. Another crucial characteristic of a VIP room is the fact that it should be physically separate from the main gaming floor, in order to give its clients privacy and make the smoking in it possible. Smoking anywhere on the main floor mass tables and slots had already been banned. This practice of reclassification is about to come to an end, with the new rules for smoking on the premises of the casino venue.
It can be recalled, that smoking inside casino venues in Macau was first prohibited at the end of 2014, which left the mass gaming areas a smoke-free zone. This effectively attracted more customers which don’t enjoy the smoke when they are trying to have a good time, but VIP rooms remained a place where casino enthusiasts could smoke freely.
There is another issue, which has been noticed by experts. Reclassifications of this sort provide misleading trends regarding the segments of a casino. In the beginning of 2017 around US$700 million of mass revenue was listed as VIP revenue. Analysts say that January 2019 will bring more clarity and a meaningful revenue share opportunity for the rest of the participants at City of Dreams and Galaxy Cotai. Among them are Macau Ltd., China Holdings Ltd., Sands China Ltd.
After a meeting on Monday, 31st July, a key Japanese government panel suggested a whole package of harsh restrictions on the operation of the upcoming casino industry in Japan, which might vex and even push back the casino operators, who are eager to invest loads of money in establishing a casino resort in the country, or at least up to now.
On Monday afternoon, the Japanese advisory panel came out with a proposal for implementing even tighter regulations, which are supposed to regulate the country’s casino industry. Among all the proposed restrictions, the panel suggested a limitation on the casino floor space to a maximum of 15,000 square meters. Besides this, it was reported that the restrictions also include an entry fee for the Japanese people as part of the strategy to curb compulsory gambling problems.
Japan decided to regulate its casino market as recently as the end of 2016. Currently, the lawmakers are crafting a bill, also known as Integrated Casino Resorts Bill, which is expected to arrange all the details regarding the construction of the casino resorts and the regulations for their operation.
But it seems that Japan is advancing the opening of the casino market in a very cautious way, as the government integrated resort advisory panel suggested even tighter restrictions, aiming to suppress any possible illicit activities. Moreover, it emerged on the surface that Japan is fearing gambling problems, as it is one of the countries with the highest rate of compulsory gamblers. Thus, the lawmakers started to consider various restrictions, which are getting tougher with every passing day.
Specialists explained that this might irritate the casino operators so much that they quit their plan and exit the deal before even entering it. This, on the other hand, will damage the country’s casino industry prior to its opening and shatter the country’s hopes for economic growth and an increase in the number of foreign tourists. Furthermore, market analysts outlined a bright future for the development of the industry, explaining that it has the potential to generate $10 billion in revenues for the country’s treasury.
Currently, many gaming conglomerates, including Hard Rock International, Caesars Entertainment, and Las Vegas Sands, are eyeing up the Japanese casino market. But Japan is still not a done deal, no matter how lucrative it looks. Thus, specialists warned lawmakers that overregulation can have a negative impact on the Japanese casino market.
It is yet to become clear if the Diet (Japan’s government) will adopt the suggested tighter restrictions, aiming to prevent nationals from gambling problems, or it will consider another more relaxed approach towards the establishment of the legal framework.
Mere hours ago, the media agency GGRAsia reported that the Macau-based junket operator Suncity Group is to further expand its reputation among players by signing with Okada Manila casino and resort. Under the partnership between the 2 companies, Suncity is to open operations at the Okada Manila casino resort by the end of the year. The information was revealed by Morgan Stanley’s Asian private equity arm, a leading global financial services company.
In a market report, submitted this Sunday, Morgan Stanley, analysts Alex Poon and Praveen Choudhary revealed that Okada Manila joined forces with its first junket partner in Q3 of the year, which sped up the finalization of the casino project. It is expected that in Q4 more junket operators will sign up with Okada Manila for collaboration, including the giant Suncity Group. Here it is important to note that Suncity is often referred to as one of the largest investors on the junket market, aiming to attract high-end VIP players.
The financial services company Morgan Stanley added that Okada Manila’s hotel room capacity currently cannot compete with City of Dreams Manila and Solaire, as the Okada Manila offers only 120 hotel rooms, 90% out of which are free of charge. The free rooms are given to high-rollers or regular casino customers as part of a promotional campaign. Nevertheless, the casino complex is expected to increase its accommodation capacity up to 493 hotel rooms in the beginning of 2018 and finding local partners is, by all means, crucial for the project completion.
Additional Information about Okada Manila
The Philippine-based company Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment Inc., known to be in charge of the resort’s development and operations originally promoted Okada Manila as Manila Bay Resorts, when in 2016 the entertaining complex under construction was rebranded into its current name. The 44-hectare entertaining complex is known to be owned by the Japanese businessman Kazuo Okada, who invested around $2 billion in the casino resort. Okada Manila is part of Manila Entertainment City, a special casino-dedicated zone, which is to feature 4 casino resorts in total. The gaming and entertainment complex under development by the local gambling authorities Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) aims to boost the country’s tourism industry and to attract the attention of high-end players from the Asia-Pacific region.
According to the initial plan, Okada Manila was scheduled to open its doors in 2015. Due to a number of obstacles, including hardships with finding a partner for the casino venture, delayed the project significantly. The casino operator asked the local gambling regulator PAGCOR for a deadline extension, and the request was approved. Consequently, the project is nearing its finalization almost 3 years later.
Currently, Solaire Resort and Casino and City of Dreams Manila are already operating, and Okada Manila is to be the 3rd resort in the multi-billion Entertainment City project. The 4th casino, which is to be part of the casino cluster is Resorts World Bayshore, but the project is scheduled to be completed somewhere in 2018.
Elements Casino Victoria, previously known as View Royal Casino is planning a grand opening for this winter to introduce its revitalized gambling facility. The renovated facility is located in the Town of View Royal and its reconstruction has started as far back as February. At present, the casino operator Great Canadian Gaming Corporation nears finalizing its concept for the expansion and its impact on the local economy is already a winner.
Casino gaming in Canada has started to experience significant growth. A good sign for that is the number of casino projects, aiming at uplifting the worn-out conception of some land-based casinos. Gambling is a polarizing issue as it has its proponents and its opponents, respectively. It is not a secret that gambling is mostly accepted by economically struggling countries, which are seeking to bring an additional source of taxes to the coffers. What is more is that this type of entertainment is increasing in popularity with every passing day and more officials started to realize the number of economic benefits of casino gambling.
Elements Casino Victoria is located on Vancouver Island and it is expected to become the largest full-fledged entertainment facility in the region. The multi-million project focuses on the opportunity to attract both gambling and non-gambling tourists and locals. In that way, the complex is to boost multiple industries and the overall economy. The casino is to spread over 70,000 square feet, featuring around 800 slot machines and up to 25 gaming tables.
Elements Casino Victoria Stirs Local Economy
Although the casino is currently under construction, Elements Casino Victoria has already influenced the local economy in a positive way by adding jobs and pushing average wages higher. The casino officials revealed that since the beginning of the project, more than 70 vendors and professionals signed a contract with the casino operator and approximately 100 job positions are expected to be created with the opening of the casino.
The casino operator is to offer a great variety of job opportunities in different spheres, including marketing and human resource departments, security, catering and many others. Several studies on economic benefits of casinos show that countries with casinos have lower unemployment rate and slightly higher wages compared to countries without casinos.
The second stage of the project is set to be finalized in early 2018. Once the casino is completely ready to operate at its full capacity, it is to generate steady tax revenues, becoming a powerful economic development tool. In an oversaturated market such as the gambling market, it is of vital importance to attract players’ attention and set the business apart from the competition. Being aware of this fact, many casino owners have started to invest millions in revitalizing their casino property.
On Monday this week, the first town hall meeting related to the construction of the highly-controversial premier casino and entertainment property in Greater Sudbury took place. The planning committee had the chance to hear people’s opinion on the matter and discuss their concerns about the possible drawbacks of hosting a casino on the Kingsway and the new location of the city arena.
Canada’s biggest private casino operator Gateway Casinos & Entertainment is planning to build a full-fledged casino on the Kingsway. The company behind the proposal put a C$60 million price tag to that project. The first phase of the Kingsway Entertainment District consists of a new public arena, a gambling and a hotel complex, several classy restaurants and an outdoor Festival Square. However, the plan should be approved by the planning committee before it can be moved forward.
The casino plan stirred up the hornet’s nest as casino opponents argued that the presence of a casino in Sudbury might hide a vital threat to the community and the local economy. Activists and business owners explained that the community has never been consulted on the proposal and people did not have the opportunity to have their say on the Kingsway Entertainment District.
Casino naysayers pointed out that a casino on the Kingsway will not only provoke gambling problems, but it will also stimulate people to spend their money in the casino, instead of in the local amenities. Apart from that, casino opponents believe that the gambling complex will not foster the tourism sector as Sudbury is not a tourist attraction, but a family city.
In addition to that, the casino opponents believe that to build a community arena just next to a gambling center is not the most appropriate decision. Last but not least, casino opponents negative environmental impacts of casino gambling, including traffic jams, parking difficulty, and others.
First Public Hearing Gathers Feedback from the Public
As a result, the anti-casino movement asked Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) to hold a series of town hall meetings and allow people to express their opinion on the matter. Yesterday, the first of two public hearings regarding the rezoning applications for the arena and casino took place.
Many people took the opportunity to voice their concerns regarding the presence of a casino on the Kingsway and the new location of the city arena. Members of the planning committee were also at hand to listen to the people’s stance on the matter and discuss the different options.
City planner Alex Singbush explained that there will be one more public hearing on the project. In addition to that, Sudburians will have the opportunity to vote on whether to approve the rezoning application related to the arena and the casino at a separate hearing in the coming months. Singbush made it clear that the arena received all the needed approvals from the environmental agencies. According to Singbush, the second public hearing will be centered around Gateway’s casino proposal.
Last week, the Hard Rock Casino Ottawa partnership that consists of HR LP Investor Inc. (owned by Hard Rock International) and RCR Investor Inc. (owned by Rideau Carleton Raceway Holdings Limited) provided further details about its multimillion-dollar ambitious plan to rejuvenate and expand the struggling Rideau Carleton Raceway in Ottawa. The two partners plan to invest more than C$318 million to create a full-fledged integrated entertainment complex in Ottawa. The three-phased project is expected to be completed in 2024.
The property will see both its facade and interior changed completely. It was revealed that the raceway is to bring the signature of Hard Rock brand to Ottawa. The ambitious project includes the construction of a music venue, a classy restaurant and an eight-storey hotel. The casino developers hope that they will receive Ottawa city council’s approval to expand the gambling options, which the property’s casino portion will feature.
The city’s zoning rules state that the casino can feature up to 21 gaming tables and the number of slots is expected to increase slightly to 1,250. In November last year, Hard Rock appeared in the middle of a social media firestorm after the company applied to the committee of adjustment (a quasi-judicial body that deals with minor changes to zoning rules) to expand the allowed number of gaming tables from 21 to 35. The company was accused of trying to avoid public scrutiny and “sneakily” add 14 gaming tables without council approval. Eventually, it became clear that Ottawa’s quasi-judicial body approved the company’s request to add 35 gaming tables to the site.
Clearing the Confusion over the Allowed Number of Slot Machines
It is important to note that Ontario Lottery Gaming Corporation (OLG) has estimated that the number of slot machines can go up to 2,000 based on the overall interest in playing slots. The city receives a payment from the OLG slots, amounting to no less than $5 million in the last five years.
The latest news raised the industry’s eyebrows after a councilor announced that there has never been a cap on the number of slot machines at the raceway. This Wednesday, Rideau-Goulbourn Coun. Scott Moffatt explained that the number of slot machines is not controlled by the city’s zoning by-law rules. This means that the number of slot machines is not strictly fixed, which is the case with the number of the gaming tables. Moffatt added that the number of the slot machines has never been part of the land-use rules.
John Smit, the city’s director of economic development, elaborated that OLG is responsible for determining the number of the slot machines at a particular gambling venue. Hard Rock plans to add another 750 slot machines in its second expansion phase, propelling the total number of slot machines to 2,000.
Yesterday, the Hard Rock Casino Ottawa partnership that consists of HR LP Investor Inc. (owned by Hard Rock International) and RCR Investor Inc. (owned by Rideau Carleton Raceway Holdings Limited) officially announced that the two partners have already submitted a rezoning application that is to move forward phases 2 and 3 of its joint venture in south Ottawa.
This Thursday, the two partners unveiled further details about the C$318-million expansion plan that aims at rejuvenating the existing Rideau Carleton Raceway site and turning it into a full-scale gambling venue.
Pending required approvals, Hard Rock International and RCR plan to invest millions during a multi-phase construction process that includes a complete rebranding and remodeling of the existing raceway. The ambitious project is expected to foster local economic developments and decrease the unemployment rate in the area, creating 1,900 construction-related jobs and 2,000 direct and indirect jobs.
Breaking the Project Down into Phases
The first phase of the project includes the addition of 35 gaming tables and propelling the number of the slot machines to a total of 1250. As it can be recalled, the company was accused of “sneakily” looking for an approval from the committee of adjustment, a quasi-judicial body to expand the allowed number of gaming tables from 21 to 35.
Eventually, Ottawa’s quasi-judicial body approved the company’s request to add 35 gaming tables. Earlier this month, Casino Reports found out that the table games are already added to the Rideau Carleton Raceway gaming floor.
The second phase of the project includes the addition of 750 slot machines for a total of 2,000 and 20 gaming tables to propel the casino’s gaming capacity to a total of 55 gaming tables. As for non-gambling amenities, the second phase of the project will see the construction of the Steakhouse Restaurant with 150 seats, Hard Rock Live music venue, Hard Rock Café with 200 seats and Velvet Lounge. It is expected that the second phase of the project will start sometime in 2019 and it will be completed in 2023.
Supposing that the company receives Ottawa city council’s approval, the third phase of the project will be given the go-ahead sometime in 2023. It will include the construction of an eight-storey hotel and the addition of 20 new gaming tables phased in over 20 years. If everything goes on schedule, the whole project is expected to be finalized in 2024.
To sum up, Hard Rock Ottawa is seeking for a permission for the construction of the hotel, an increase to the permitted building height, in order to accommodate a hotel, the addition of a “theatre” as a permitted use and the 2,500 seat Hard Rock Live venue addition of 20 new live gaming tables. Last year, Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) has selected HR Ottawa, LP (known as “Hard Rock Casino Ottawa”) as the service provider for the Ottawa Area Gaming Bundle as part of its modernization project.
The revenues from video lottery terminals (VLTs) across Nova Scotia are growing at a slower pace than in the past several years, a new report reveals. The Canadian province is now decreasing its reliance on earnings from VLTs and cutting the number of machines in gambling venues.
This is one of the highlights of the 2018-2019 Business Plan of the Nova Scotia Provincial Lotteries and Casino Corporation (NSPLCC) which was released Thursday on the official website of the corporation. The strategic goals and priorities, outlined in the document, are, for the most part, the same as in last year’s Business Plan. The numbers, however, reveal that the growth in the revenues from VLTs has slowed in the past few years, most notably during the 2017-2018 fiscal year, according to the forecast figures.
In terms of forecast sales, there has been a growth in the past several years, but revenues have increased at a slower pace, the data shows. For the 2014-2015 period, sales were CA$113 million, while in 2015-2016, they soared to $133 million, a rise of $20 million year-on-year. Then, they increased with only $2 million to $135 million in 2016-2017, while in the following period, 2017-2018, the increase was insignificant, resulting in sales of $135,2. The NSPLCC’s new Business Plan features a positive estimate for VLT sales for 2018-2019 – they are expected to reach $139,200.
Much like last year’s paper, the new Business Plan of the provincial casino corporation concludes its achievements and the performance of casinos, video lottery terminals, and ticket lotteries. The largest revenue is being generated by ticket lotteries – $223,600 (forecast 2017-2018), which remain the most popular form of gambling among people in Nova Scotia. Casinos, on the other hand, report sales of only $85,900 for the same period.
VTLs: Not a Sustainable Source of Revenue
According to the 2018-2019 Business Plan, the NSPLCC believes that the video lottery segment is not a “sustainable source of revenue”, at least in the long run. In order to maintain the local gambling industry economically sustainable and socially responsible, the corporation has taken several measures. One of them is to gradually remove VLTs once they become obsolete and to increase the revenue from other business lines such as ticket lotteries. Since 2011, 155 machines have been removed due to natural attrition or because the venues were closed.
Customer satisfaction is among the priorities for 2018-2019 and the corporation points out that one of the most important things is to improve the player experience for those who buy their lottery products online. It focuses on its online platform because it recognizes the shift in customer preferences – people are increasingly playing lottery games and other games of chance online instead of visiting casinos and facilities that offer VLTs.
Meanwhile, the two casinos in the province are expected to perform better in the upcoming period, with estimates showing satisfactory growth of around $13,000 on an annual basis. The sales in the 2017-2018 period are estimated at $69,800, while for 2018-2019, casino revenues are expected to rise to $82,100.
The way in which video gambling machines tax revenue is used by local government has been a commonly-discussed issue when it comes to filling the budget deficits or making salaries payments. This, however, could turn out not as easy as initially expected, as some state governments learned at the time when casino revenue started to decline.
However, Lake County is using the money generated from video gaming terminals (VGTs) to fund local non-profit organizations which take care of problem gamblers by providing them with gambling addiction treatment or mental health services. According to media reports, more charity organizations will become eligible to state funding under a policy which has recently been revised by the county, and more money is expected to be received as tax revenue, too.
Although the state has seen some difficulties to provide enough (or any) funding for social services during the two-year gap without a budget which ended last year, Lake County’s agencies are getting more and more money to fund community services to help gambling addicts. Unlike the majority of local governments which also get video gambling terminals tax revenue on a yearly basis, Lake County designates the entire revenue for various social service programs. Last year, the amount was worth US$545,150.
Last month, the county board made the grants available for the majority of social service agencies. County officials revealed that now, programs oriented towards gambling addicts are also able to seek multi-year funding, which has been an important change in the status quo, as many smaller organizations depend on such funding in order to attract other contributors.
As revealed by county officials, the state expects a further amount of $150,000 derived from video gambling terminals to be received by Lake County.
Additional Tax Revenue Expected to Be Brought Thanks to the Changes
As commented by Tom Weber, a Lake Villa’s county board member, the aforementioned changes are in line with the board’s vision for the use of the revenue at the time when the new policy was brought into action in 2013.
As mentioned above, Lake Villa received a total amount of $545,150 in video gambling tax revenue in 2017. Gambling addiction programs got a chunk worth $150,000, while a $245,150 portion was intended for counseling services for local families and residents with lower income. A further $120,000 were granted to homeless outreach, and mental health services in the county got a $30,000 portion.
The overall amount was generated as tax money from the 305 video gambling terminals in Lake County, which is on the fifth place by number of machines in the state, according to the most recent report released by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability.
The state is set to start collecting sales tax on all purchases of Illinois residents from online retailers situated in other states in less than a couple of months. This step is expected to boost the revenue even more in the months to come, with the additional revenue expected to be generated over the first year only being estimated to roughly $140 million.
British Columbia is seeking ways in which it could battle money laundering via expanded and more efficient resources. General Attorney David Eby recently made it clear that the province would aim to increase the number of individuals monitoring the province and detecting money laundering threats part of the policing unit proposed earlier this year.
A recently submitted report revealing more about money laundering in the real estate field has prompted the increased efforts. Over the past several months laundering illegal activity proceeds via the gambling, real estate, horse racing, and luxury cars fields has been a topic of wide discussion not only in British Columbia, but also across the country, and in the US.
In an attempt to reduce the negative impact of this criminal activity and to prevent it from expanding even further, the government is after a bigger policing unit.
Real Estate Field Also Targetted
Former Mountie Peter German recently submitted his second money laundering report, this time focusing on the housing market in British Columbia. The piece of intelligence is currently reviewed by the government, as it could include information that could negatively impact ongoing investigations. However, the details it features have already prompted action.
Mr. Eby stated that there is a concerning issue across the province that should be addressed via a larger team that would look not only into the gambling field but also in the real estate one. The first Peter German report called Dirty Money recommended a special unit that would conduct criminal probes across gaming facilities located in the Lower Mainland. Now the recommended unit would have to see more people joining and expanding its scope to the real estate field.
The reason for this change of plan was that as many as 20 properties located in the Lower Mainland region were linked to individuals previously associated with money laundering. The properties estimated to CA$43 million and were connected to individuals part of the E-Pirate probe conducted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Probes Would Continue in Lower Mainland
The investigation revealed that more than CA$220 million was laundered with the help of an underground bank in Richmond and casino venues in the region to the likes of River Rock Casino. China and Mexico were the locations where the cash originated from and loan sharks have been known to provide their clients with fresh CA$20 bills at casino venues in the region.
It should be taken into account that the British Columbia Government is going to pour some CA$70 million into money laundering battling in the foreseeable future. In addition to that, about CA$69 million would go towards probes related to supposed money laundering activities in the province. The second Peter German report is going to shed more light onto the subject and shape the new policing unit.
Recent cash washing discoveries point towards River Rock Casino’s gaming scene in the late 90s and when it all started. Former supervisor of the gaming floor spoke about the changes in May 1997 and the way the gaming location was transformed only months later. Following limits jump to up to CA$500 per hand and the introduction of baccarat tables, VIP casino patrons were quick to make their way to the venue with their constant supply of CA$20 bills.